1,674 farmer suicides in 16 yrs in 7 Punjab districts, Muktsar worst | punjab | Hindustan Times
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1,674 farmer suicides in 16 yrs in 7 Punjab districts, Muktsar worst

 Most of the victims (60%) used poisonous insecticides available in farmer households; 16% died of hanging, and the remaining jumped before trains or into wells. 

punjab Updated: Jun 17, 2017 09:26 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
In the 2013-16 period, 572 suicides were reported in the seven districts, as against 1,102 in the 13 years before that. Muktsar saw a spurt in these three years, at 265 cases, followed by Patiala (152) and Faridkot (64). 
In the 2013-16 period, 572 suicides were reported in the seven districts, as against 1,102 in the 13 years before that. Muktsar saw a spurt in these three years, at 265 cases, followed by Patiala (152) and Faridkot (64). (HT Representative Image)

In 16 years since 2000, at least 1,674 farmers committed suicide in seven of Punjab’s 22 districts, according to a report by Punjabi University submitted to the state government on Friday. Muktsar is on top of the list by a distance, with 825 suicides, whereas the number is 874 for the six others, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Rupnagar and SAS Nagar. 

The victims included 110 women. Note, that 53.3% (893) were farm labourers or tillers, and the rest owned land. Of the total, 1,506 (90%) farmers killed themselves due to debt taken for agricultural purposes, and the rest due to other social reasons. The report alerts that the suicide pattern is spreading to Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Faridkot, too. 

 The study was ordered by the previous SAD-BJP regime in March last year on directions of the high court. The 22 districts were divided among three state universities — Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar; and Punjabi University, Patiala. Reports by the other two are awaited. The government, then, promised to give an ex gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to the victims’ families. 

Worst period

The universities were told to give a report for the period between 2000 and March 31, 2013. But the investigators collected information beyond that and included that in the report. Studies have been done from time to time, but the university terms the latest as the most exhaustive. 

In the 2013-16 period, 572 suicides were reported in the seven districts, as against 1,102 in the 13 years before that. Muktsar saw a spurt in these three years, at 265 cases, followed by Patiala (152) and Faridkot (64). 

“Sudden rise is worrying. Experts have been suggesting a policy; giving compensation alone will not help,” said a researcher who did not want to be named as he’s not authorised to speak to the media.

 Most of the victims (60%) used poisonous insecticides available in farmer households; 16% died of hanging, and the remaining jumped before trains or into wells. 

On the quantum of debt, the report says landowning farmers in Fatehgarh Sahib owe the highest per-person at Rs. 8.8 lakh; and in Hoshiarpur the lowest at Rs 3.58 lakh.